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77 Acres. 77 Acres of wondrous beauty and architectural splendor now about to become mired in 50 shades of pain. The University of Chicago is leaving the Yerkes Observatory in the dust by making an executive decision to withdraw the equipment, personnel, and funding for expenses. That leaves a giant husk of a structure, built around the time of the Great Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893, and home, at one time, to the likes of Albert Einstein. The empty shell of the Yerkes will soon (October 1st) be sitting upon a hyper-expensive piece of lakefront shoreline, waiting to be picked over and up by real estate “crows,” circling overhead and staring hungrily down at this giant chunk of American historical road kill.

The University of Chicago is not indicating that any of what is written here is an accurate description of what is going to happen. The University of Chicago is going to hold meetings. They are going to listen to the communities that have indicated they have an interest in what happens to the structure. The University of Chicago will then decide how they want to handle the empty husk they are leaving behind. In a movie called The Outlaw Josey Wales, a group of American Indians was portrayed as going to Washington in the late 1800’s in order to lobby for land and their survival upon that land. They left Washington with no land and no guarantee of survival. Instead, they were told to “endeavor to persevere.”

The University of Chicago, with the help of highly paid professional public relations people, is basically telling the people who live around Geneva Lake to “endeavor to persevere”. The decision to abandon the Yerkes has been made, and according to sources high up in the executive offices of that institution, the decision is final. What will now begin to form, like so much light fog, and then change to rain, and then sleet and finally cold heavy snow, will be the forlorn abandoned result of a university that is in retreat and leaving its heavy equipment behind as it runs. If the university “generals” weren’t running for cover, with a yellow stripe painted up and down their backs, then they would have been having talks with all the communities and citizens so deeply emotionally and financially impacted by their decision before the decision was made, and not after.

It should be noted that year after year, (2017 being no exception) Yerkes has conducted benefit functions to draw in contributors who’ve paid thousands and thousands of dollars to help defray university expenses. What of all those people who’ve thrown their beneficent fortunes into such a well of astronomical goodwill? That well, now proving to be one with no bottom whatsoever.

The University of Chicago has indicated that the institution has no intention of selling the Yerkes structure, or the surrounding land that they tried to sell only eight years before. Back then they had all but finalized their secret deal with a spa developer when the city leadership of Williams Bay got hold of the plans and tore them to shreds. The eight-million-dollar deal fell through. The University of Chicago executive leadership, when queried about this former decision so at odds with the current leadership’s message, had a brilliant response: “The University of Chicago is no longer under the same executive management.”

Yerkes Observatory and Albert Einstein

Yerkes Observatory Lake Geneva

Albert Einstein and the staff of the Observatory in front of the 40-inch Refractor, Yerkes Observatory — Williams Bay, Wisconsin. E. E. Barnard is shown in the middle of the back row.
Date:6 May 1921

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